High mold levels seen in Midwest

Dangerously high mold count coupled with ragweed a danger

CHICAGO, | August 8, 2012

The Midwest is under an air quality alert for dangerous levels of mold, a Chicago allergist said.

Dr. Joseph Leija, an allergist who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count -- the official allergy count for the Midwest -- said the Midwest mold count Tuesday was 65,000, higher than the 50,000 threshold that signals a dangerous air quality warning.

"Yesterday the mold count was 125,000 -- almost triple the threshold alert and while today the count is lower, it is still dangerously high," Leija said in a statement. "Headaches, congestion and fatigue will be common for Midwesterners with sensitive respiratory systems. Today, I also recorded ragweed, which is the most common allergen and also the most irritating."

The dangerously high mold count coupled with ragweed is a real double-whammy to breathing health, Leija said.

Leija said the unusual allergy count was due to the continuous heat, the high humidity and the brief but intense weekend rain.

"I knew the mold count would be high but I was stunned by yesterday's historically high count and I am surprised that it continues to be very high today," Leija added.

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